When Trust is Broken: Exploring Medical Malpractice and Patient Rights

People trust their doctors to provide them with the highest care and safety. However, when this trust is broken due to medical malpractice, it can have severe consequences for patients. And the sad part is that the number of such cases is increasing.

According to Becker’s ASC Review article, California had the highest number of medical malpractices. In 2022, California reported 2,074 medical malpractice cases, followed by Texas, with 1,903 cases. Illinois ranks 7th on the list with 861 medical malpractice cases.

In this article, we’ll discuss what medical malpractice is and explore how patient rights are affected by medical mistakes.

Understanding Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a legal claim that a healthcare provider has breached the standard of care in some way. The term “breach” means that the doctor failed to meet some reasonable level of expectation. For example, if your doctor tells someone about your personal information, this would be considered a breach of confidentiality.

According to TorHoerman Law, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed against any type of healthcare provider. It can be against hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and private physicians’ offices. The victim can find an experienced lawyer and evaluate his or her case to understand if a lawsuit can be filed.

According to FindLaw, birth injuries, surgical errors, anesthesia mistakes, and wrongful death are the few scenarios in which medical malpractice is considered. The HIPAA laws can be the basis for legal action. Put simply, anywhere where someone receives medical treatment under the care of another person can be held liable for malpractice.

In fact, there are many cases where no actual injury occurred but were filed because someone felt aggrieved by something said or done. For instance, a Medscape article shows a medical malpractice case where the doctor has never met the patient. The doctor and the late victim used to communicate over the phone. However, the doctor has been sued for negligence, and the case has moved forward in the court.

The Impact on Patients

Medical malpractice can have profound and lasting effects on patients, extending far beyond the initial incident. The impact on a patient’s physical health is perhaps the most immediate and obvious consequence. Negligent medical care can result in severe injuries, complications, or even death. Patients may endure prolonged pain and suffering, requiring additional medical interventions to address the consequences of malpractice.

The emotional toll on patients is significant, often leading to heightened anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Trust in the medical profession may be shattered as patients grapple with feelings of betrayal and loss of confidence in healthcare providers. The psychological impact can persist long after the physical injuries have healed, affecting the overall quality of life for the affected individuals.

Financial burdens are another repercussion of medical malpractice. Patients may face exorbitant medical bills for corrective treatments and ongoing care necessitated by the malpractice. Lost wages due to extended recovery periods or disabilities compound the economic strain on victims and their families. The financial consequences can be devastating, potentially resulting in bankruptcy or long-term financial instability.

Beyond the individual level, medical malpractice can erode public trust in the healthcare system. Instances of negligence and malpractice can undermine confidence in the competence and integrity of healthcare professionals and institutions. This erosion of trust may lead to a reluctance among patients to seek medical care.

Patient Rights in Healthcare

Patients have rights in healthcare, but they’re not always respected. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that many of the patient’s rights are not communicated to them.

Many people don’t understand what these rights actually mean or how they apply to them as individuals. This can lead to confusion and frustration when patients feel their needs aren’t being met by their medical providers. This is especially true when the cause is unclear, or there’s no one available who knows how best to help them navigate their situation.

The thing is that patients have the right to sue a medical professional or institute for malpractice. A Bloomberg news article shows that an Illinois hospital has been recently sued for a doctor’s negligence. The doctor was not officially a part of the hospital team. However, the victim was not aware of this and sued the hospital for it.

Similarly, anyone who has been medically mistreated can file a malpractice lawsuit. However, it is vital to hire a local attorney. Local lawyers are well-versed in the laws and regulations specific to their jurisdiction. This knowledge can be crucial, as laws can vary significantly from one place to another.

Moreover, they also have experience practicing in local courts. They may be familiar with local judges, court procedures, and the preferences of local legal professionals. This familiarity can be an asset when navigating the legal system.

Hence, it is crucial to select a local attorney after careful consideration. So consider the case of a city like Edwardsville in Illinois. In that case, it is advised to hire an Edwardsville personal injury lawyer.

Recognizing the Signs of Medical Malpractice

If you suspect that medical malpractice may have caused harm to you or a loved one, it’s important to recognize the signs of it. Here are some examples:

  • The doctor or hospital failed to diagnose an illness, injury, or condition in time for treatment options and recovery plans to be effective.
  • There was an error during surgery that led to permanent disability or death.
  • Medication prescribed by a physician causes significant side effects such as permanent disability or death.

Identifying these signs can help prevent any consequences. It can also help you file a lawsuit against the medical practitioner within the statute of limitations. AHA Journals estimate that by age 65, at least 75% of physicians in low-risk specialties may experience a claim. It can rise to 99% in high-risk specialties.

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Legal Recourse for Patients

You can also take legal action against the hospital, insurance company, and government.

The first thing to do is talk to someone from your state’s medical board or licensing agency. They may be able to help you resolve your case by working directly with the doctor and/or hospital. If that doesn’t work for you, then there are other options available:

  • You can file a complaint with your state’s attorney general office. They’ll investigate whether there were any violations of patient rights laws at the time of treatment. If so, they’ll pursue criminal charges against the medical provider involved and potentially get restitution for those who suffered losses.
  • If criminal charges aren’t an option, then civil lawsuits may still be possible under certain circumstances.

If you win a medical malpractice case, you are awarded compensation for your damages. Consider the example of the verdict passed against the St. Cloud Hospital. As covered by the AP News, a $111 million verdict in Minnesota was passed in favor of the complainant against St. Cloud Hospital. $1 million was for past and future medical expenses, $10 million for past suffering, and $100 million was awarded for future suffering.

In conclusion, while medical malpractice is a serious issue, it’s important to remember that it can happen to anyone. If you or someone you know has been affected by medical negligence, it’s important to know your rights. You can file a complaint as a patient and seek legal recourse if necessary.

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